Ris­ing: The Book of Challah

Rochie Pin­son
  • Review
By – January 4, 2018

Ris­ing: The Book of Chal­lah by Rochie Pin­son | Jew­ish Book Coun­cil

Reb­bet­zin Rochie Pin­son was young and new­ly mar­ried when she trav­eled with her hus­band to Kobe, Japan for the High Hol­i­days to bring inspi­ra­tion and Torah to the small Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty there. She soon learned that there was no kosher bak­ery in Kobe, and she was expect­ed to bake chal­lah for some two hun­dred peo­ple. After mak­ing many fran­tic phone calls, she devel­oped a recipe she could fol­low, and she suc­ceed­ed. Upon her return to New York, she was deter­mined to con­tin­ue improv­ing her bak­ing. As the weeks and months went by, the Reb­bet­zin came to under­stand that, Just like flames, we give light to oth­ers and become brighter in the process. This is challah.”

The first sec­tion of the book has a philo­soph­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al bent. It is my prayer that through this book, we will grow to nur­ture our­selves – and the ones we love – so that we all rise to our fullest, most expan­sive, and tran­scen­dent selves, and maybe bake some awe­some chal­lahs along the way,” she writes. She con­tin­ues with a dis­cus­sion of women and chal­lah, and the mean­ing we can find in the sep­a­rate strands as they come togeth­er. Quotes by Torah sages infuse her explo­ration of each ingre­di­ent: flour, water, yeast, sug­ar, salt, oil, and eggs.

Turn­ing to the recipes, she begins with the basic steps and tech­niques for bak­ing chal­lah. What fol­lows are Clas­sic Chal­lah Recipes,” Holiday/​Specialty Chal­lah Recipes” (includ­ing a Shavuot But­ter Chal­lah), Chal­lah Recipes from Around the World,” Chal­lah Embell­ish­ments,” Left­over Chal­lah Recipes,” and Chal­lah Top­pings and Accom­pa­ni­ments.” Both sweet and savory offer­ings are includ­ed. Pin­son offers some unusu­al recipes, such as Fishy Chal­lah, which is stuffed with tuna or salmon and baked in a fish form. Also intrigu­ing is the Bridal Hen­na Chal­lah. The sec­tion Trou­bleshoot­ing A Trou­ble­some Dough” antic­i­pates the ques­tions bak­ers may have.

The numer­ous braid­ing tech­niques are described and illus­trat­ed with care. The Laws and Cus­toms of Chal­lah” round out the book. This is tru­ly an ency­clo­pe­dia of chal­lah in all its facets, appro­pri­ate for the begin­ner or vet­er­an baker.

Danièle Gor­lin Lass­ner (wife, moth­er, grand­moth­er) retired after 35 years at Ramaz where she served as Dean of Admis­sions, For­eign Lan­guage Depart­ment chair and teacher of French and Span­ish. She owns hun­dreds of cook­books. She has trans­lat­ed sev­er­al chil­dren’s books from French into Eng­lish. She has recent­ly trans­lat­ed “ A Mem­oir of Sanc­ti­ty “ by May­er Moskowitz (Mazo Pub­lish­ers, Jerusalem, Israel) from Hebrew into Eng­lish. No mat­ter the lan­guage, food is a con­stant.”

Discussion Questions